My body, my right to choose
Before I celebrated my 17th birthday in 2008, I began menstruating. Coincidentally, a month later I had sex for the first time. A month after that, I found out I was pregnant; I chose to have an abortion.
The process was not a simple solution. Retrospectively, it plays out in slow motion. First, discovering that two pink stripes on the test indicated “positive” followed by explaining the news to my boyfriend, who I had known since I was 4.
Then, I spent all of my free time on Google, researching the costs of abortion, among other things and how to raise another human when I was still so dependent on my own parents. I begged for answers on public parenting forums and distinctly recall a lady responding, “Good for you!” on a day when I wrote of my intention to keep the baby, and my pro-life rationality was particularly strong. As if another uneducated, indecisive teenage mother in a relationship that was 10 months new was exactly what the world needed.
The ultrasound technician smeared freezing blue gel across my lower abdomen and pressed the ultrasonic transducer to my skin as we watched the screen, but nothing was evident. She suggested I hold my breath to slow the strength and clarity of my own beating heart. I stopped inhaling and, as the picture became still, an infinitesimal flicker appeared.
A tiny little dot appeared on the screen: it ate what I ate, went where I went and was completely dependent on me to grow — not on my boyfriend who, although supportive, was not the one housing an amalgamation of the two of us above his bladder. He was not the one who missed prom because his dress didn’t fit anymore. My body was changing, my autonomy was under fire and my own life was beginning to look a lot like a worst-case scenario.
My family was helpful — they consistently reminded me that I had a choice, but they failed to acknowledge me as an individual in this process.
Given the option was to either keep or abort the child, the choice to choose myself seemed to be the most selfish option available.
The guilt is still unbearable. I wasn’t part of an incredibly small percentage of women who are impregnated by rape. I could have attended university eventually despite having a child and my health was not threatened in any way. I considered adoption but decided that I was not comfortable with my child being raised by society.
Just as abortion is not an alternative to contraception, adoption is not a solution to accidental conception. A 2007-2008 study released by The
Ministry of Children and Youth Services in Canada concluded that there were over 18,500 children remaining in CAS care while a mere 822 children were adopted. There is not a surplus of people hoping to adopt children, and the foster care system is frequently criticized for its inability to provide children with permanent and stable homes.
Moreover, the debate between pro-choice and pro-life saturates this dialogue while the overarching principle of reproductive rights is overlooked. As a result, women’s voices become lost in the battle to justify their right to claim bodily sovereignty.
The only reasoning necessary to justify reproductive rights adheres to humanitarian principles, not religious, economic or political ideologies.
I acknowledge the tiny dot on the screen would have morphed into what would currently be a beautiful 6-year-old — that idea will never go away. I carry that weight with me – that shame. Anyone who actively pushes against reproductive rights trivializes motherhood and lacks compassion.
I’m thankful reproductive rights are taken so seriously in Canada, which has provided its citizens with safe and effective methods in handling unplanned pregnancies.
Ideally, I wish someone had told me that being intimate with someone does not, by any means, imply that you are forced to accept the life-long responsibility of bearing and nurturing another human being. I wish the option to have an abortion was not described as a “choice” for women seemingly incapable of motherhood. I wish I had not been subjected to aggressive pro-life approaches, all of which never failed to remind me that I was some sort of murderer. I wish the shame that accompanies having to experience an unwanted pregnancy at any age did not exist.
Admitting to not being ready does not evade my supposed responsibility to parent and I reject the implication that my primary duty as a woman is to bear a child. I will decide what is best for my life and for my body.
Other related articles:
A Case Against Abortion – http://www.thecord.ca/a-case-against-abortion/
A Case for Pro-Choice – http://www.thecord.ca/a-case-for-pro-choice/
Letters to the Editor 22/10/2014 – http://www.thecord.ca/letters-to-the-editor-re-a-case-against-abortion/